KMTS Basketball: Titans Edge into Sweet Sixteen vs. Manual

PEACH VALLEY (3/2/18) – Number three hosting number thirty? Never mind those 3A state basketball playoff numbers, what counts for Coal Ridge is surviving the upset bid by Frontier Academy, 52-48, and a showdown in the Sweet Sixteen with Manual to see who advances to the Great Eight at Denver University next week.

The Wolverines (9-12), who finished tenth in the 11-team Patriot League with a 2-8 record, showed no fear of the undefeated Western Slope League Titans (21-2), overcoming a fast Coal Ridge start to lead 12-11 after one quarter.

The Titans, who committed eight first-period turnovers and shot 4-of-14 managed to regain the lead on their first possession of the next quarter on Brandon Herrera’s drive to the hoop, but couldn’t keep it. In the quarter, there were six lead changes, the last one coming on Collin Channell’s 3-pointer for a 23-21 lead with 2:30 until halftime.

The Wolverines’ 6-5 Zach Hidalgo, who averages 23 points a game, but had just two in the first period, followed with two more treys to lead Frontier Academy to a six-point lead, reduced to 29-25 by Kevin DiMarco’s basket with a minute to go.

Coal Ridge was just 2-for-9 on 3-point attempts in the first half, while the visitors’ zone was holding the 6-7 DiMarco to just 1-of-5 shooting. But the junior post did make 5-of-8 from the free throw line, and Herrera, despite going 0-for-4 from long distance, tallied 8 points on inside drives.

Two buckets by 6-8 Connor Detlefson, inserted into the second-half starting lineup for an injured Brody Morgan by coach Paul Harvey, tied the score while the Titan defense held Frontier scoreless for the first 3:20 of the third period.

Herrera broke out with back-to-back treys for a 35-32 Titan lead, but Channell and Lukas Bowles matched those, and Hidalgo’s only second-half basket again gave the Wolverines the advantage at quarter’s end, 37-36.

A couple of Titans who hadn’t seen hardly any floor time, helped Coal Ridge accomplish the game’s tenth lead change on its first fourth-quarter possession. Jesus Camunez tipped the ball to Jan Hernandez for a steal, who passed down low to Daniel Lopez. Finding himself dwarfed by Frontier’s 6-8 James Pike, the 6-0 Lopez kicked it back to Hernandez for a driving layup and a 38-37 advantage.

Coal Ridge, which missed half of its 22 free throws in the game, again made one-of-two (by DiMarco), but Pike knotted the score for a final time with 4:40 to go. DiMarco, who was held to 1-of-6 shots through three quarters, scored his first basket of the second half for a 41-39 lead with four minutes to play. Then Detlefson, after being blocked by Pike, alertly put back the deflection, matching the Titans’ biggest lead of the game, 43-39 at the 3:20 mark.

The Titans would never lose the lead, but the Wolverines would slice it to a breathtaking one point four times in the closing minutes. The last came with 44 seconds remaining when Bowles’ two free throws trimmed the margin to 49-48.

Coal Ridge ran 34 seconds off the clock before Herrera was fouled, making both for a 3-point lead with 14 seconds left, and Hernandez’ steal, with 11 seconds to go, sealed the victory.

Herrera and Hidalgo, who was limited to 4-of-15 shooting by Payton White’s defense, shared scoring honors with 17. DiMarco tallied 12 for the Titans with 9 rebounds. Detlefson, scoreless in the first half, finished with 8 points and 7 boards. White, in addition to his defense on Hidalgo, added 8 points and 5 rebounds, and Hernandez chipped in 7, along with 3 assists.


In Saturday’s regional finals, the Titans will face the 14-seed, Manual Thunderbolts (15-8), another team that can match their height inside, who defeated Pagosa Springs (14-7), 75-61 in the early game Friday.

Manual was led by 6-6 Jaedon Bowles who scored 21, including a pair of treys and a throw-down dunk on a breakaway. Six-foot-six Julian Johnson added 16 points, as did sophomore speedster Jaden Stoffel. The T-Bolts made 31-of-50 from the floor and 15-of-21 free throws, forcing 8 first-quarter turnovers while racing to a 21-9 lead. The Pirates, who finished second to number-two Alamosa (19-3) in the Intermountain League, sliced the lead to one, 45-44 with two minutes to go in the third quarter – but Manual poured in twelve straight points for a 57-44 lead going into the final frame.

In other first-round games, fourth-seed Platte Valley (18-5) was upset by number-29 St. Mary’s (11-12) 57-53, and the 13th-ranked Roaring Fork Rams (19-4) lost at home to number-20 Colorado Academy (14-9), 48-44. The only other home team to lose was number-10 Resurrection Christian (16-7) – which handed Coal Ridge one of its two losses this season – 67-66 to The Academy (17-6), seeded 23rd.

The winner of Coal Ridge-Manual will play the winner between sixth-seed Faith Christian (17-6) and number-11 Kent Denver (19-4) in the Great Eight at Denver University on March 8.